Chasen Gaver

Performance Poet:
An Evening of Poetry and Dance I – Baby It’s About Time! (Friday, Oct 27, and Saturday Oct 28, 1978)  $3.00

An Evening of Poetry and Dance II (1979)

“Performance poetry springs from the mind of Chasen Gaver, a 24-year old Wasington poet who, along with others of similar persuasion, is adding an important dimension to the style and sound of American poetry.  Gaver, along with other artists uses what performance can provide – sounds, rhythms, props, costumes- to create an experience of poetry that the written word itself cannot achieve.  In a sense, it is the performance that is the poem here, and the written word is the main scaffold of that experience.”  John M. Yanson, Blade (Gay Newspaper).

Chasen was a brilliant performance poet and a rapper in style. His work addresses sexual/gender and social issues with cynicism and daring.

Chasen Gaver (1953-1989) wrote poetry, novels, essays, plays, and short stories. He started a chapter for the National Organization for Women (N.O.W.) while in college. After graduating from The College of Wooster in Ohio, he worked in Washington, DC as a per diem paralegal at the Federal Trade Commission. He described himself as a performance poet, and much of his work focused on relationships and issues of identity; he was homosexual. In 1978 he won a grant from the District of Columbia’s Commission on Arts and Humanities; he was one of the first openly gay artists to win this grant. He won even larger grants in 1981, 1986, and 1987 and went on to write book reviews for The Washington Blade. Gaver was also a part of the Black Artists/White Artists artist collective as well as Young Audiences, a performing arts program specifically for inner-city children. He was diagnosed with AIDS in 1987, and wrote about his experience until his death in 1989. Some of his works of poetry included “Daddy!” “Summer Beach Talks,” and “From Now Til Doomsday.” Some of Gaver’s works were also published in the audio publication Black Box, and he performed at the Joaquin Miller Cabin reading series. Some of his work is included in the Miller Cabin anthology Whose Woods These Are. DC Writers’ Homes: